4/27/2018

1980s Don Young Koa Lap Steel Guitar




This curious, beautiful, koa slab was made by none other than Mr. Don Young, co-founder of the current National Reso-Phonic. While Don passed away a couple of years ago to the grief of reso players everywhere, he must have built this guitar at some point in the '80s judging by the red-covered Seymour Duncan Hot Stack for Tele pickup.

It's a gorgeous little guitar and shapes-out around the same size as the old Rickenbacker aluminum-bodied lap steels. It has a two-piece, solid curly koa body with a separate koa neck. The fretboard and control panel are rosewood and it has deco-style pearl inlay (and flush frets) in the board that recall Weissenborn and Knutsen instruments of the '20s. It appears all-original and the brass bridge, string retainer, and bridge cover appear to be hand-made. The Kluson tuners date to the late '60s or early '70s but, as I said before, the pickup suggests an '80s build.

Controls are simple: volume and tone and a 3-way toggle switch. That toggle seems to swap between series (down position), out-of-phase (mid-position), and parallel (up position) on the pickup. Said pickup is a stacked-humbucker, blade-magnet job with a 3-screw Tele height adjustment setup. The instrument appears to be all-original and it's in a very good, almost-unused state.

I didn't do any work to it -- I just wiped it down quickly and tuned it up for the video clip. It was in open E so I left it there (EBEG#B low to high). Tonally, the series/parallel toggle gives the player some nice options out of a one-pickup rig. The parallel setting is a bit more of a late-'40s, early-'50s tone while the series setting gives a lot more twang and rip.

Specs are: 22 5/8" scale, 1 15/16" nut width, 1 11/16" string spacing at the nut, 2 1/8" spacing at the bridge, 9 1/2" lower bout width, 7 1/4" upper bout, and 1 3/4" depth.















The strings load through the rear like many Magnatones.





A homemade, oak-and-mixed-hardwood case comes with it. It was clearly made for the instrument and is nice.

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